UNStudio’s Shanghai Jiuguang Center is inaugurated

the Shanghai Jiuguang Center, the largest shopping complex in northern Shanghai, designed by UNStudio Architectural firm in collaboration with Nihon Sekkei, was recently completed and inaugurated. The two companies worked together to create a structure that could also serve a social role and become a point of reference not only for customer-consumers but also for the community. architect Ben van Berkel from UNStudio, at the presentation of the project for the Shanghai Jiuguang Center, emphasized the social role of this type of building in China. Not just a complex of retail stores, but public spaces serving the city, where culture and trade come together and where architecture fulfills a broader function.
the Shanghai Jiuguang Center was built in a busy part of Shanghai with an architecture office Nihon Sekkei Design of the outer shell and UNStudio Design of all interiors of the mall, including the central courtyard and its facades as well as the public roof terrace.
The user experience, understood both as a shopping experience and as an interaction with the different rooms, was the main idea behind the development of the project. The outer layer of the complex looks like a protective shell that opens inward to reveal a flowing and luminous experience. Paths and emotions converge in the central core, a floor-to-ceiling courtyard designed as an inner landscape. The great central void thus appears like a pearl of light, an effect that is reinforced by the ceramic tile cladding of the courtyard facade, which assumes dynamic mother-of-pearl reflections when exposed to sunlight. The floor-to-ceiling void allows cross-sectional views and visually connects all levels of the complex, which are connected by flowing escalators and a scenic staircase that traverses the central cavity.
Equipped with green areas and seating integrated into the structure, the inner courtyard is a pleasant meeting point and resting place that users can enjoy at any time of the day and at the same time accommodate shopping center or community-relevant events. Distributed around the courtyard and connected to it by protruding balconies and ribbon windows, there are three internal cavities. The materials and finishes chosen for each cavity define three different identities, corresponding to three different shopping themes that run vertically through the complex: the “urban playground“in which lights and colors evoke the dynamism of the metropolis,”the urban oasis“in which warm colors are inspired by nature and finally”urban catwalk“in which dark, shiny materials recreate the city’s nocturnal atmosphere. The ceiling contains an element that allows users to navigate easily and indicates service areas and vertical connections (elevators and escalators) next to the cavities.

(Agnese Bifulco)

Images courtesy of UNStudio, Photos by © Aaron & Rex

Project name: Shanghai Jiuguang Center
Client: Lifestyle China Group Limited
Location: Jing’An, Shanghai, China
Date: 2014-2021

Building surface:
Shopping center GFA: around 120,000 m²
Retail design area: 50,000 m2
Office design area: Approx.18,290m2
Program: courtyard facade, shop fittings, office furnishings, courtyard landscape
Status: completed

Architect: UNStudio,
UNStudio team:
Ben van Berkel, Astrid Piber, Hannes Pfau with Ger Gijzen, Marc Salemink, Sontaya Bluangtook and Daniele de Benedictis, Dongbo Han, Enrique Lopez, Lars van Hoften, Tiia Vahula, Martin Zangerl, Mo Lai, Ningzhu Wang, Shuang Zhang, Marta Piaseczynska , Chao Liu, Cristina Bolis, Tom Wong, Yang Li

Local architect: TJAD
Facade consultant: Schmidlin
Light design: Bartenbach

Photography: © Aaron & Rex

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